3 replacements for Derek Barnett in the Philadelphia Eagles’ DE rotation
Though the Philadelphia Eagles ultimately flew out of Detroit with a win over a surprisingly pesky Lions team, the team is not headed back to South Philly unscathed. No, after having to be helped off of the field and tended to on the sideline, Derek Barnett’s 2022 NFL season is officially over, as the former first-round pick out of Tennessee has officially been diagnosed with a torn ACL that will land him on IR for the remainder of the season.
Now granted, this isn’t as big of a loss as it would have been in seasons past; after starting 45 of of the 49 games he appeared in from 2018-21, Barnett was brought back to fill a depth role on base downs behind starters Josh Sweat and Brandon Graham, with Haason Reddick taking any third-down rushing snaps that may have previously gone his way. Still, the Eagles aren’t a team that can just rest on their laurels and hope to continue on as if nothing changed; even if Barnett never quite lived up to the lofty expectations folks had for him coming out of Tennessee, he’s still proven to be arguably the best run-stuffing defensive end, with proven ability to set a hard edge against runners of all shapes, sizes, and positions.
One way or another, that needs to be replaced.
But who should the Eagles turn to? Are there any interesting options on the roster, on a practice squad, or on the free agent market who could immediately step in and fill the role? Or will Howie Roseman have to get creative in order to continue to field one of the best defensive line rotations in the NFL? Fortunately, there are actually a number of interesting players who could fill that role moving forward.
An MRI revealed that Eagles’ DE Derek Barnett suffered a season-ending torn ACL during Sunday’s win over the Detroit Lions, per source.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) September 12, 2022
The Philadelphia Eagles should consider these 3 players to replace Derek Barnett.
3. On roster replacement – Tarron Jackson, Philadelphia Eagles
If Roseman wants to take the path of least resistance to replace Barnett, the easiest option would be to slide Tarron Jackson up one spot on the depth chart from DE5 to DE4.
A sixth-round pick out of Coastal Carolina in 2021, Jackson is the all-time leading sacker in Chanticleers history at 25 and reportedly had a very good camp in his second summer with the Eagles. Though he’s a tad undersized at 6-2, 254 pounds with a short wingspan and a poor 3-cone drill, according to MockDraftable, Jackson graded out fairly well against both the pass and the run in limited rookie action according to Pro Football Focus and thus, could be a solid enough four option playing roughly 30 percent of the Eagles’ defensive snaps in 2022.
2. Practice squad option – Taco Charlton, New Orleans Saints
If the Eagles want to fill Barnett’s roster spot with another defensive end stolen off of another team’s practice squad, Taco Charlton is one of the few options available who could intrigue the front office.
A former first-round pick of the Dallas Cowboys back in 2017, Charlton has never quite lived up to fan expectations coming out of Michigan – sound familiar? – but has carved out a decent enough career for himself, bouncing around from Miami to Kansas City, Pittsburgh, and most recently New Orleans, where he spent his summer. Even if Charlton tops out as a fourth defensive end, he’d provide the Eagles with a change of pace option who, at 6-foot-6, 270 pounds, is unlike any end currently on the 53-man roster. If the Saints don’t protect him, Charlton could be an intriguing claim option heading into Week 2.
1. Free agent option – Dee Ford, ex-San Francisco 49ers
And last but not least, if the Eagles want to make a splash and use some of the $10.9 million in cap space they currently have available, the biggest name left on the free agent market is Dee Ford, the one-time Kansas City Cheifs draftee who was traded to and then signed a five-year $85.5 million contract with the San Francisco 49ers in 2019.
Once considered one of the best pass-rushing defensive ends in the NFL, who amassed 31.5 sacks from 2016-19, Ford’s production started to dip over the past two seasons and was ultimately released to save money. Still, if the Eagles feel confident enough in their run-stuffing defensive end rotation or even decide to lean into more “heavy” defensive fronts with Jordan Davis, Fletcher Cox, and Javon Hargrave all on the field at the same time – either with Sweat and Reddick deployed wide or with BG as a fourth down lineman – bringing in Ford as a rotational lineman who can spell either Sweat or Reddick on the outside and provide some change-of-pace pass rushing may prove intriguing enough to warrant a longer look.